Touch technology is changing the way we live, Hardly hot news, many of us have iPads (other tablets are available) with touchtech, but seriously, if you told your Great Grandad that you could select properties by touching the window of the local estate agency, he wouldn’t believe you.
Remember the ‘ansaphone’ Grandad? We have moved on; the through-glass interactive window touch screens are ultra-high bright screens that are visible in direct sunlight and provide 24/7 access to the agent’s entire portfolio, allowing customers to register their details, request a viewing or book an appraisal 24/7.
Lest you worry you may have to man the office 24/7, “no additional human resource is required,” says Steve Blackaller at Intouch Display, “and our software, developed in-house, works seamlessly with your existing software provider.”
Several suppliers offer touch screens to display properties inside the agency office, but these ‘through-glass giant iPads are currently only available through Intouch Display. Steve is extremely enthusiastic about them, “Our window touch screens are now available in various sizes in both landscape and portrait orientation and can be complemented with our internal touch tables, lecterns or wall screen options, all of which offer the same software functionality.
“Our screens are monitored 24 hours a day, providing a fully-managed solution for total peace of mind, all data is fully updated without any user intervention. Everything about the system is provided in-house; software, hardware and all parts in between, as well as simple no fuss on-site installation. Nothing is outsourced.”
Meanwhile in Woking, Samsung and MPL Interiors have joined forces to supply and install a ‘revolutionary new window display system.’ Working with software specialist Reapit, this digital display unit is at Seymours estate agents in Woking, Surrey.
Each screen acts like a ‘blinking eye’, changing property with every blink, as well as having the ability to show a reel of marketing messages and even moving images.
The timing and transition of each property or graphic can be easily altered by the agent, with a number of templates to choose from. It is also possible to programme the screens so they scroll through a portfolio of images from one property.
“Digital is the future of window displays,” says Harry Simons, Partner at MPL Interiors, who has been working closely with Samsung SDS Europe to develop and install the system for the estate agency industry.
“Samsung’s new window displays totally integrate with Reapit’s database of live properties, meaning there’s very little effort needed by an estate agent to ensure every property it is selling or letting is displayed in the window. This advance in window displays is the beginning of the end of printing out property details and manually changing displays. Agents are no longer restricted to how many properties they can display at any one time – which should also appease vendors and landlords who all want their property in the window. What’s more, changes made by agents on Reapit are automatically update on the window display, cutting down administration.”
INTERIOR TOUCH SCREENS
The tech benefit continues once home hunters enter the agency, says Janice Fairfied at Fairfield Displays, “Negotiators can show locations of properties, local details and use Google Street View, show the frontage of the property. Prospective buyers can find out everything they need to know about a particular location, they can ‘favourite’ properties and have the details emailed straight from the screens back to their own computer/tablet/phone.”
Janet adds her opinion that the best type of touch screen to use is a PCAP which works like a large tablet available from 22-inch up to 65-inch. “It is incredibly receptive and is a dream to work with.”
ON THE MOVE
The Intouch tablet app allows agents to take their portfolio with them wherever they go, useful for demonstrating to clients the interactive benefits of their window screen, while on viewings, alternative properties can be presented to the client.
The app can also be used as a presentation tool back in the office. It connects to any of the large wall screen options displaying a mirrored view of the tablet.
However, it isn’t just about displaying properties. The way vendors and buyers interact with estate and letting agents is changing, since the arrival of the online agency services. Janice Fairfield says that ‘bricks and mortar’ agents need to shout about their unique offering to the market place.
“All agents are looking for more vendors and more landlords. But how does a vendor or landlord choose which agent to deal with? Each agent offers slightly different benefits compared with their competitors; whether they have a presence on a busy high street in a town or in a small village.
“Agents need to re-think how they use their premises to interact with their clients in a different and stimulating way. Premises need to attract attention at multiple levels.
“A strong brand image is crucial, so that your premises are highly visible and memorable.
“Information in the window needs to work at several levels, not just to show available properties and not just to beg for instructions, which simply makes you look unsuccessful, rather than – as you may see it – having speedily let or sold everything in sight.”
It’s an interesting view, to use your high street position to show that you are much more than a property advertising medium. The online-only agents don’t have this opportunity to inform passing prospective vendors and landlords who maybe sitting in the traffic; on their way to the shops; collecting children from school – your location is the perfect place to profile the reasons why they should give you their property to sell or let.
The shopfitting experts are there to help you display this information, either in a separate display stand that looks different from your property displays or to put the information on a high brightness screen.
Janet says, “It is easy to bring it to life by mixing short videos or slides with property details. The property display will achieve two objectives – one to show prospective clients that you are good at marketing their property and the other to show buyers what is available.”
The new elegant Nimbus Illuminated floor stands are ideal for creating feature areas to display marketing messages. Screens and illuminated LED graphics can be mixed on the same display so information can be shown in a compact and eye catching way.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
All this shiny new tech toys are exciting, no doubt about it, but they do look and sound expensive. However, the shopfitters, software companies and screen developers are forging new relationships to wrap it all up in cost-effective packages.
Steve Blackaller at Intouch, says, “Our complete system is available for an affordable monthly payment and by incorporating optional business partner advertising, the system can even be cost neutral.”
And his clients are impressed, Intouch customer, Jeff Cole, at Cole Rayment and White in Cornwall, says, “Since having our touch screens installed clients are able to interact with us 24/7 and indeed the other evening at 10pm I saw clients using the screen. Also, in Wadebridge and Padstow I saw two separate parties use them between 10-11pm after being out for a meal.
Zoopla, rapidly becoming a one-stopshop for agents, reports that it has partnered with Samsung SDS to bring an online search experience for consumers direct to the high street offices of its member agents.
Launching very soon, the plan offers agents 40 to 60-inch, high-bright, digital touch-screen displays inside branches that are powered by Zoopla listings.
The listing’s content will only relate to the properties available at that specific branch and will enable sales and rental agents to engage and attract buyers, vendors, renters and landlords in-branch with a touch screen solution.
Mark Goddard, Managing Director, ZPG Property Services said, “We are excited to be partnering with Samsung SDS. Through this partnership we are giving our members the chance to easily publish property details content and we are essentially bringing the online experience that consumers are used to at home into the office with these supersized interactive screens. This will help agents update the current out of date retail format of brochures and desk-based customer experience and facilitate a richer in-branch experience that engages property consumers and also improves the retail experience for their buyers, renters and clients. The set-up is extremely simple and all that is required is plugging the Zoopla branch ID into the setup resulting in all the benefits of online, but with an expert on hand to help.”
Fairfield Displays has been appointed as an official partner to supply and install the complete Samsung package, so for clients who do not have Zoopla or Reapit, Fairfield offers alternative packages that cover the rest of the market.